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Alex Stewart


I studied for an MSc in Biology at The University of Nottingham, 2008-2012. My research during this period focused on the parasitology and eco-immunology of the mouse (Mus domesticus), bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). As part of my undergraduate studies I acquired a scholarship from the Wellcome Trust to develop immunological techniques for the study of a wild rodent model, the bank vole. I was also given the opportunity to develop skills in the field of bird ringing and take part in a field trip to Portugal to study feather mites, followed by subsequent ringing trips with the BTO. After graduating from Nottingham I acquired an internal position as a lab assistant to Prof Jan Bradley for six months developing techniques to study CTLA-4 polymorphisms in Mus spp.

In 2013 I commenced a PhD at the Cardiff University supervised by Prof Jo Cable and Prof Joseph Jackson, spending the first year in collaborative work at the Aberystwyth University helping to develop RT-qPCR techniques for the study of our system, the three-spined stickleback. I spent the latter 2 years of my PhD at the Cardiff University conducting experiments on the parasitology, thermoregulation and immunology of the stickleback. During this period I have gathered extensive knowledge and developed, or improved, culture techniques for multiple parasites including Saprolegnia parasitica and Argulus foliaceus. During my PhD I have also been involved in multiple collaborations including working with Dr Catherine Wilson at the School of Engineering at Cardiff on the swimming performance and flow dynamics of fish. I also conducted a series of projects with Prof Jerzy Behnke at The University of Nottingham on the phylogenetics of rodent parasites.

stickleback cripes


Telephone: +44(0)7792621520
Extension:  76907
Location:  Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX Room: C7.07


Wellcome funded scholarship: Development of Myodes glareolus gata3 primers. Supervised by Prof Jan Bradley.

Over the summer of 2010, I conducted a research project on bank voles (Myodes glareolus), developing primers using degenerate PCR techniques for the gata3 gene Jackson et al. 2014). I learnt and developed various skills in cell culture, PCR, RNA/DNA extraction and RT-qPCR.

3rd Year research project: Parasitology and morphology of the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Supervised by Dr Andrew MacColl.

My third year research project focused on the effects of parasitology on the morphology of the three-spined stickleback. I developed an understanding of the system that would stand me in fine stead for my PhD working with the same animal model.

Master Project: Immune regulation in a naturally infected wild vertebrate Mus domesticus. Supervised by Prof Jan Bradley & Prof Jerzy Behnke.

This project utilised a population of wild house mice (Mus domesticus) close to The University of Nottingham. I studied the eco-immunology and parasite immunology of wild mice particularly focusing on the regulation of the immune system, while expanding my skills in cell culture, FACS and RT-qPCR.

Laboratory Assistant: Development of techniques to study CTLA-4 polymorphisms in wild vertebrates. Supervised by Prof Jan Bradley.

As part of this project, I developed a technique that would allow us to study CTLA-4 polymorphisms in wild animals in order to understand how the different isoforms, flCTLA-4, sCTLA-4 and liCTLA-4, affect parasite infections and immunology in wild mice.

PhD research: Eco-immunology and thermal variation of the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Supervised by Prof Joseph Jackson and Prof Jo Cable.

Cripes Alex research Untitled

During the course of my PhD, I have conducted experiments to understand how and ectothermic vertebrates immune system is affected by temperature, photoperiod and infection, with a focus on climate change and improving our understanding of common aquaculture infections.


Behnke JM., Stewart A., Bajer A., Grzybek M., Harris PD., Lowe A., Ribas A., Smales L., Vandegrift KJ. (2015). Bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and house mice (Mus musculus musculusM. m. domesticus) in Europe are each parasitized by their own distinct species of Aspiculuris (Nematoda, Oxyurida). Parasitology, 142: 1493-1505. DOI:

Jackson J.A., Hall A.J., Friberg, I.M., Ralli C., Lowe A., Zawadzka M., Turner A.K., Stewart A., Birtles R.J., Paterson S., Bradley J.E., Begon M. (2014). An immunological marker of tolerance to infection in wild rodents. PLoS Biol: 12(7):e1001901.

Joseph A. Jackson, Amy J. Hall, Ida M. Friberg, Catriona Ralli, Ann Lowe, Malgorzata Zawadzka, Andrew K. Turner, Alexander Stewart, Richard J. Birtles, Steve Paterson, Janette E. Bradley, Mike Begon (2014). An Immunological Marker of Tolerance to Infection in Wild Rodents. PLoS Biol: 12(7):e1001901.

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